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Global Warming Comes to St. John in Sunday Lecture

Dec. 10, 2007 — With a slew of facts and figures to back up her message, Laurie Herrick of The Climate Project outlined global warming's impact Sunday from a bully pulpit at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship service.
"Carbon dioxide emissions have been creeping up since the Industrial Revolution," Herrick told the more than two dozen people gathered at the Gifft Hill School.
The Massachusetts-based Herrick was trained to speak on global warming by former Vice President Al Gore, one of about 1,000 people around the country who make similar presentations.
She said there are two key indicators when it comes to monitoring global warming — the Artic and Antarctica. The Artic ice sits over water, and is therefore thinner than Antarctica, which mostly sits over land. However, the Larsen Ice Shelf juts off Antarctica and sits over water.
Showing slides of how the Larsen Ice Shelf started breaking up in a matter of days, Herrick said that the melting caused higher than normal tides in locations far removed from Antarctica, such as the Maldives islands.
She said that in the Artic, melting water lubricates fissures, causing the ice cap to break apart.
While Herrick had statistics about how rising population increased global warming, pictures tell the story. Flipping through slide after slide she showed how glaciers looked decades ago and how they look now. One showed the mummified remains of "Otzi," the early European man who died in the Austrian Alps some 5,300 years ago and whose body was uncovered in 1991.
"It was exposed by glaciers melting," Herrick said.
Another showed the intact Portage Glacier in Alaska in 1914. By 2005, a big lake sat at its foot.
Herrick said that temperatures around the world are rising. One slide indicated that the temperature reached 122 degrees in June 2003 in India. A total of 1,400 people died. Other areas had equally shocking statistics.
Bringing her talk close to home, she talked about the coral bleaching events that left large sections of colorful coral across the Virgin Island stark white.
"And jelly fish are on the rise," she said.
She said that there's a consensus among scientists that global warming is causing the increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes, and in 2004 the first ever typhoon developed in the South Atlantic. It impacted Brazil.
Herrick urged those at the Sunday service to get the message out to others that they can do something to help. One slide showed that using compact fluorescent light bulbs cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent.
After Herrick noted that some states are signing on to the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gases because the United States is the only industrialized nation that's failed to sign, former V.I. Sen. Craig Barshinger suggested that the Virgin Islands could pass its own legislation supporting the Kyoto treaty.
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